Brighton into FA Cup quarter-finals after Evan Ferguson goal beats Stoke
Brighton advanced into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup as teenage forward Evan Ferguson’s first-half effort secured a 1-0 victory at Stoke.
The Republic of Ireland international, 18, finished a fine move on the half-hour mark to register his fifth goal for the Seagulls.
The Sky Bet Championship hosts went close to equalising after the break through on-loan Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe, before Brighton substitute Danny Welbeck hit the post in stoppage-time as the visitors claimed a last-eight spot for the third time in six seasons.
Ten days on from their last match, the 1-0 Premier League loss to Fulham, boss Roberto De Zerbi made five changes to his starting line-up, with Ferguson one of two 18-year-olds in the side.
The other was Argentinian midfielder Facundo Buonanotte, making his first start since joining the club in January, while skipper Lewis Dunk retained his place for a 400th Brighton appearance.
Stoke, currently 17th in the second tier, had an XI showing seven adjustments from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Millwall, including Alex Neil bringing in January signing Tuanzebe for a full debut.
Potters forward Tyrese Campbell registered the contest’s opening attempt in the fifth minute when he cut in from the right and saw Jason Steele block his shot.
Soon after, Buonanotte’s header was diverted behind by Jack Bonham, and Jan Paul van Hecke nodded over from the resulting corner.
Stoke threatened again in the 29th minute with a low Campbell strike that Steele got down to save but Brighton had been dominating possession and a minute later they were in front as Kaoru Mitoma ran on to Dunk’s excellent through-ball and laid a delightful pass of his own to Ferguson, who tapped in.
The closing stages of the first half then saw Moises Caicedo hit a strike wide of the Stoke goal and a Jordan Thompson shot pushed behind by Steele.
Pascal Gross dragged an effort wide and Jeremy Sarmiento’s shot was well saved by Bonham as Brighton sought another early in the second half, before Stoke almost drew level in the 65th minute with Tuanzebe sending a header just wide.
Mitoma looked likely to double Brighton’s advantage on 73 minutes but his shot ended up in the side-netting.
Having weathered some Stoke pressure, the visitors then nearly added a second late on, with Welbeck seeing one shot saved by Bonham and another come back off the post.